Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Reforms pivotal for struggling schools

VERY powerful and important findings in Massachusetts regarding the ability to turn around chronically failing schools (I've emphasized the key elements):

Two out of three public schools with chronically poor test scores have made appreciable strides since Massachusetts passed sweeping education changes intended to overhaul urban schools, a new report has found.

Of 34 low-performing schools across the state, 25 raised math scores on the latest round of the MCAS test, and 23 improved in English, according to an analysis being released today by the Boston Foundation, a strong proponent of overhauling urban schools.

Almost all showed some improvement, while more than a dozen made more striking gains.

The study, meant as a progress report on landmark legislation in 2010 that took aim at the state's stubborn achievement gap, provides evidence that reorganization efforts are helping turn long-struggling schools in the right direction.

"It's a remarkable story,'' said Elizabeth Pauley, the author of the report. "In just one year, many of these schools have made substantial progress.''

Almost 90 percent of students at the overhauled schools come from low-income families, and nearly half do not speak English as their first language. These students, as a group, badly trail their counterparts in wealthier suburban schools, a socioeconomic divide that has created deep inequalities over decades.

The legislation allowed the schools designated as "underperforming'' to extend the school day and receive tens of millions in new funding and gave superintendents greater latitude to reassign or dismiss principals and teachers.

On average, the overhauled schools removed 45 percent of their teachers, the report found, and several kept less than 25 percent.

"There was a lot of turnover,'' Pauley said. "Superintendents said they had to change the culture, and the way to do it was to bring in new staff.''


Reforms pivotal for struggling schools

Study shows nearly all made gains in math, English tests

By Peter Schworm

 |  Globe Staff  

  November 10, 2011


 Subscribe in a reader